One Unique Signal

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It could be argued that Sonic Youth chose a bad time to call it a day. In the wake of their demise there seems to be somewhat of a resurgence in the underground psych scene, full of wah guitars and experimental shit (to use the technical terminology).

Bands from across the globe are embracing their jammy roots and once more giving up the verse/chorus/verse for extended interludes and outros, and with Austin Pysch Fest, Berlin Psych Fest and a wealth of smaller blossoming festivals emerging it doesn't look like we're slowing down just yet. One Unique Signal are heavily in the centre of this and with their new album Aether they're ready to prove it.

Blasting open with racing insanity and something to prove, 'Luna Attractions' is merely one Kim Gordon away from being a Washing Machine cut; in fact there's even a lyrical head-nod to Gordon's signature "come on down, down to the river!" with the song’s only lyrics: "come and swim where the river is dry." Full of stuttering tremolo and wah-laden guitars, the group repeat over a constant gritty bass and hypnotic rhythm, rising to fall with noise and mayhem - a powerful opener. 'A Beginning' is a tribal beast; reverberant and washy as if the group recorded in a cave, but it helps accentuate a dark and uncomfortable tension in the song that might have otherwise been lost.

There are many instances of clear musical heritage in Aether, almost too many in fact (almost), but it's the dense feeling of space and reverberation throughout that ties the record together and gives it claustrophobic character. 'The Under Side' and 'One Three Five' have the unmistakable sound of someone who's just dusted off their Sub Pop 200 sleeve and reopened their world to what good grunge really sounded like… with Lanegan-inspired vocals and homages to Mudhoney and Green River in the guitar stylings.

But equally there's 'Amplitude' that must have fallen out of Ian Curtis' notebook… or perhaps it was a b-side from Spiderland along with closing track 'Aether' ? Who cares…. it's… it's amazing! and very rarely can a band can pull so many references and ideas together from across the board, but it's with good production that this feat can be achieved [unfortunatly no producer credits came with the PR… hint hint bands/publicists].

An album that pays homage to such a diverse range of cultural staples (and One Unique Signal seem to draw from some of the best) can often result in a washy listen with clear rip-offs and borrowed ideas, but Aether doesn't ever suffer from this, but rather mutates influences into something pleasantly familiar but distorted and awesome.

To contradict the opening declaration: there is a psych rock resurgence, sure, but there is no more a resurgence in psych rock than there is anything else. What we're really seeing now is a musical climate that allows ALL of the little sub-genres and left-fields to crawl out from the underbelly - if you know where to look. One Unique Signal always knew where to look, which is how they've formed a clear solidarity in themselves, while channelling some of the world's favourite freaked-out bands and musicians. Much of the band's influence has passed on and decayed now but with this spooky second album the group seems to have found a solid footing.

Whether it's dark Slint-y haunts, such as 'A Ribbon Snake' or balls-out rock tracks, like in 'Seed' there's a consistency in the inconsistencies. This is a band with a strong idea of how all music should sound to their ears and instead of just being one song per band, they're all of them. What if Sonic Youth had Mark Lanegan in the band? What if Ian Curtis was alive to sing with Slint? What if ALL OF THE ABOVE PLAYED AT THE SAME TIME?! Did you spend your teenage years dreaming of all those bands like Mad Season and Temple of The Dog? The 90's mashups and tripped out anthems? Well, look no further than here, my dear plaid-shirt-clad acid head. You've come to the right place and you're in good company.

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